Entertainment » Movies

The Loveless

by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 9, 2019
The Loveless

It's always a trip to see earlier films from notable directors like Kathryn Bigelow. With some, you see a whole mess of ideas you don't think quite work and with others, you can see a degree of confidence behind and in front of the camera. That's what we have here with "The Loveless," which is also Willem Dafoe's first starring role. That is if we don't count his uncredited work in "Heaven's Gate," before Michael Cimino kicked him off set for some very petty reason.

It's the United States in the late 1950s, a time when society was in violent upheaval with race riots and sexual repression under the Ronald Reagan administration. Vance (Dafoe), is the leader of a small biker gang that stops in a small Southern town en route to Daytona for the car races. Their attitudes and natural affinity for random violence triggers the town's denizens to grow tense until the tensions boil over into incredible violence. Running parallel to this story is Telena (Marin Kanter), a young girl driving a red sportscar looking for her next thrill, only to find that thrill in Vance. Unfortunately, though, Telena's hot blooded father is aware of her antics and seeks vengeance.

"The Loveless" was initially derided by critics and audiences alike for endorsing the kind of violence we'd see from biker gangs like The Hell's Angels only two decades after the film's setting. Plus, the film was initially released in 1981, a year in which that kind of violence was still very raw. Luckily, especially with this gorgeous new restoration by Arrow Films, a new generation of viewers will be able to see "The Loveless" for what it really is: A cocksure first film that has a voracious streak of deadpan satire that few films are able to achieve without becoming self-parody. Bigelow and co-director/writer Monty Montgomery purposely obscure facts about locations and certain characters to present a microcosm of American society in flux.

Co-director Monty Montgomery cut his teeth on the kind of genre fare that would go on to inform "The Loveless," but he nevertheless had his eye clearly set on turning the camera back at the social turmoil we only see glimpses of in "The Loveless." It should come as no surprise that Montgomery went on to produce multiple films by David Lynch, as this film has similar wry wit and love for the deadpan. Montgomery was also heavily involved in the restoration of "The Loveless" and is featured on a new audio commentary that any film fan should seek out.

As for the audio and video presentation of "The Loveless," they're both simply stunning. A grain field has been left that presents the new 2K restoration without digitally scrubbing everything that made this gritty picture unique. Shiny chrome, hot red accents, reflective leather; these things and many more take the stage in "The Loveless." There's also a slew of other special features you'll want to dig into almost immediately after watching the film. Video interviews with Willem Dafoe, Marin Kanter and Robert Gordon provide unparalleled insight into the production of the film. Other special features include:

• "No Man's Friend Today: Making "The Loveless""
• "Chrome and Hot Leather: The Look of "The Loveless"" including interviews with production designer Lilly Kilvert and director of photography Doyle Smith
• "U.S. 17: Shooting "The Loveless"" including interviews with producers Grafton Nunes and A. Kitman Ho
• Illustrated booklet including new writing on "The Loveless" by Peter Stanfield


"The Loveless"
Arrow Video Blu-ray
$39.95
https://mvdb2b.com/s/TheLoveless/AV207

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